agriculture

MANHATTAN, Kansas — A bus filled with livestock industry representatives from South America, Australia, Africa and Europe drove past rows of pens and concrete feed bunks in central Kansas this week.

They held their phones and cameras up to the windows as a wave of cattle lifted their heads and stared back. Dump trucks full of feed shared the roads with cowboys on horses.

Half of the tour group, who had come to Kansas State University for the 9th Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock Conference, had never visited an industrial-sized feedlot.

This June the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced its plan to move two of its research agencies out of Washington, D.C., to the Kansas City area. Most of the people working at the agencies have since quit, leaving gaping holes in critical divisions. Researchers warn that the agency upheaval will starve farmers, policymakers and ultimately consumers out of the best possible information about food and the business of growing it.

The USDA’s 2017 Ag Census recently revealed which congressional districts represent the most farm producers. 

It’s little surprise that the Midwest and Plains states dominate the top 20 slots. But the vast majority of U.S. House members have few farmers to answer to, compared to the rest of the people they represent. 

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

PLEVNA, Kansas — P.J. Sneed walks through his small greenhouse in central Kansas checking on rows and rows of small hemp plants just waiting to be put into the ground.

The plants inside the greenhouse near Plevna look rather healthy. Problematically, they look better than the plants in the few acres he’s already planted just outside of the greenhouse.

(This story was updated at 5:15 p.m.)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced plans Thursday to move headquarters of two large research agencies from Washington, D.C., to the Kansas City area, promising the region more than 550 research jobs.

Early, heavy and, in some areas, nearly relentless rains have led to a late planting season across much of the central United States, especially for corn.

Flooded fields can stymie planting — even if the rain lets up for a couple of days — because the ground is too wet and soft for heavy equipment. Even where farmers were able to plant, heavy rain sometimes required another round of seeds after the first ones were swamped.

The Kansas City metro area is among three sites still in the hunt to become the next location for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's research arms.

Jason Penney, Creative Commons

Drive on any major highway in Kansas and you’ll likely see some roadkill.

For decades, biologists at the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism have found a treasure trove in their counts of flattened animals. It’s a way to create a population index of raccoons and beavers.

In 1986, the scientists also started counting armadillos.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW/File photo

Mike Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State and a former Kansas congressman from Wichita, spoke about some of the key issues he is dealing with as the country’s leader of foreign policy during a brief interview Thursday with KMUW. 

Updated at 3 p.m. Dec. 20 with Trump signing legislation — The long-awaited final version of the farm bill was unveiled Monday night, and it hews somewhat closely to the previous piece of massive legislation — aside from legalizing hemp on a national level. 

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